After more than 5 years spent full time travelling around the world, we’ve built up a pretty solid idea of what to pack for travel.
Along the way we’ve also made PLENTY of mistakes! Like ...
Simple mistakes when packing for a trip can make a huge difference to your eventual time away.
That’s why I wanted to put together this epic travel packing list guide to help you make sure you've got the perfect travel gear, regardless of which trip you plan on taking.
I’ve included all of the top travel tips & tricks we’ve picked up over the years to help you not make the sort of simple mistakes we have.
Along the way, I’ve also included useful links to other sites where you can pick up most of the items mentioned in this list.
Feel free to skip to whichever section suits you best, or head right to the end to get our quick travel packing checklist.
Let’s get started ...
The first big packing decision you need to make is deciding which bag to take with you.
As a rule of thumb, we always each take two bags with us:
If ever we are backpacking, we always each take our larger travel backpacks, which are between 50 and 70 litres big.
This is tonnes of room to hold all of your travel gear no matter how long you plan on travelling for.
Based on our experience backpacking dozens of countries, I can confidently say that your go-to brand should be Osprey.
The majority of all travellers we see also have Osprey bags and there’s so many reasons why, including:
Here are our 2 top recommendations:
A day bag is a great piece of kit, and one that gets a lot of use!
Nowadays, there are hundreds of different day bags out there to choose from, each one tailored to unique needs.
For example, we always have one more rugged day bag that’s perfect for hiking and wearing for long hours when out and about.
Our other one is specifically designed for digital nomads and has plenty of room for laptops and other technology.
It’s perfect as it can fit both our laptops and a few other expensive pieces of kit.
Then, when we’re travelling between locations by bus, train or aeroplane, we can keep it all together and on us at all times.
Here’s the 2 day bags we recommend using based of our own experience:
On recent trips of up to 3 months, we’ve actually started taking just one large backpack between us, which has proven to be plenty of space for all of our joint backpacking gear.
And this is despite the fact that almost a third of that bag is taken up with diabetes supplies for Cazzy.
When we first started backpacking, we took far too much stuff with us, and have over the years got much better at taking only what’s needed.
There are a lot of benefits to sharing just one bag between two people, and if you plan on travelling with a partner, I recommend opting for just one bag as well.
Amongst other things, it forces you to think more minimalist and take only with you what you really need and will use every day.
I’ve broken things down here to help you organise your own trip packing list into more straightforward chunks.
Feel free to skip ahead if you’re looking for more info on a specific section.
Here’s a look at all the items I might typically take with me travelling.
Of course, my exact backpacking packing list will depend on things like weather, time of year and religion (all mentioned back at the start of this post).
Here’s a look at the range of items Cazzy might take with her depending on the nature of the trip.
As you can see, her packing list is a bit different to mine ...
A basic first aid kit is one of the most important things to pack for a trip.
We take a first aid kit with us on all trips and it contains all the basics you might need in case of minor injuries; including:
If you don’t yet own a travel first aid kit, then here’s a good option to buy.
It contains the majority of what you need and you can then just add in any other items you want to take with you.
Plus, it’s small enough to tuck away in your backpack and not take up much space.
We tend to pick up some basic toiletries before we head abroad, as it can be expensive buying a lot of these in foreign countries.
If you’re heading on a backpacking trip of more than a month, then don’t take enough for your whole trip as it will add a lot of weight and increase your risk of a toiletry explosion inside your bag!
Here’s our typical toiletries list for when we travel:
I think travel banking is a key part of any travel packing list and something that many people don’t really think of until they find themself in a foregin country paying exorbitant exchange fees!
Travel cards offering the best exchange rates are essential things to pack for travelling, so make sure you’ve got yours sorted!
To make sure we get the best rates everywhere and have enough cards in case one gets lost or stolen, we always take 4 travel cards between us.
That way, if disaster struck and we lost a bag or my wallet, then we always have a way to access more money and help us get home.
As we’re from the UK, we use both Monzo and Revolut.
These are UK-based companies that (at least at the time of writing) aren’t available outside of the country.
So if you're from another country, do your research of local credit card companies ahead of time and try to find a credit cards that doesn't charge you fees on converting to foreign currencies.
Also look at what they charge for withdrawals.
Both Monzo and Revolut give you £200 of free withdrawals every month, and you then pay a 2% fee on any amounts above that.
With 4 cards between us, this means we very rarely pay any fees on withdrawals.
Most countries now take cards in all shops and restaurants so we just try to pay with a card whenever possible.
Getting setup with both these providers is dead simple, you simply download the app, fill in some basic details and then order your free card from within the app.
There’s more info in there about how the cards work and there’s options to upgrade to a monthly membership and gain access to reduced fees and other cool perks.
Read Also: Monzo vs Revolut: Which Is Best For Travel?
Here’s a look at the final items that I would class as vacation packing list essentials.
Over the years, we’ve started paying more and more attention to the types of tech we take abroad.
Not least because they help us to create epic travel content to share with you on the blog!
Here’s a look at what we take with us on a typical trip abroad and what to pack for travel if you want to up your travel photography skills.
This is basically a larger, more professional camera which you can then upgrade by purchasing a variety of different lenses. The DSLR we use is now almost a decade old, but still works incredibly well. If you’re serious about upping your photography game then a great place to start is by picking up a DSLR. We usually opt for the standard lens that came with the DSLR, but a wide angle lens like this is perfect for capturing landscape shots and gives you much greater flexibility.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one handheld camera that allows you to capture great photos and excellent videos, then you really can’t go wrong with this camera. It’s so small and compact that we can take it on day trips no matter where we are, and don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space. And what’s great is that the sound recording quality is superb so it’s great if you plan on vlogging and editing cool videos together.
When we upgraded our GoPro from the Hero 4 to the Hero 8, we really couldn’t believe the difference in quality. The Hero 8 solves every issue we’ve ever had with its older counterpart and is now one of my favorite pieces of travel gear. It’s small and slim and doesn’t require a bulky waterproof case. The image stabilisation is out of this world, also it records high quality sound so can be used to record in far more situations. In terms of taking photos, the quality is okay, but it proves great for those fisheye selfies. You definitely need one of these if you plan on doing any adventurous or underwater activities.
The Popularity of drones has truly exploded over the last few years and they’ve gone from being a rarity to the norm at most popular tourist spots. We love our DJI Mavic Pro and take it with us everywhere (as long as it’s legal of course). DJI is the go-to brand for reasonably priced, superb quality hobby drones. If the price tag of the Mavic Pro or Mavic 2 is a little high, you can pick up a Mavic Air or Mavic Mini for a lot less.
Beyond taking a basic first aid kit with you, there’s a few other health & safety items you may need to pack to keep you healthy when abroad.
These can include:
We’ve already covered most of our international travel packing list, but here’s a few other products that didn’t fit the categories above and which you may want to discover.
Here’s a few items that DON’T deserve a spot in your travel packing list!
This is great because it allows you to quickly check through and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything before actually packing. You can also see whether your bags will realistically be big enough to store everything. You can also better create systems of how to compartmentalise all of your backpacking gear.
Another benefit of laying everything out before you pack is that you can ask yourself: “do I really need this?”. One of the great things about travelling for long periods is that it shows you how little from your life back home you actually need to use every day. Plus, if you do suddenly need an extra pair of pants or something, you’ll easily be able to buy one abroad.
It’s worthwhile taking a few minutes to write out absolutely everything you think you may need on your flight. There's nothing worse than being 5 minutes into a long haul flight, suddenly realising you left something important in your hold luggage! For me, this always includes things like earphones, laptop, a jacket and snacks.
We always aim to keep as much of our valuables as possible in our carry-on bag. This includes things like our laptops and cameras. It’s nice having them to hand, knowing that they can’t get broken or stolen when being passed through transit in the hold.
One thing that you simply cannot afford to go light on when packing is any important medication or health supplies. With Cazzy’s type 1 diabetes equipment, she always takes at least 2 or 3 times the bare minimum she will need. This covers against any unforeseen event, such as insulin getting frozen, equipment being broken in transit or stuff getting stolen.
If you plan on doing a lot of travelling in coming years, then it’s worth spending a little more on top quality bags, shoes and camera equipment. It actually saves you money in the long run, as you otherwise may need to constantly replace broken and worn out equipment. It also makes for a much more enjoyable travel experience overall.
Rather than just placing items into your bags, think strategically about ways to save space. A big one is filling any open spaces with smaller items. For example, if you have spare shoes in your case, then stuff smaller items inside, like socks.
Based upon what you have packed, do you think there will be space to pack any souvenirs you pick up along your travels? It’s always nice to pick up small trinkets and souvenirs to remember your trip, but you have to realistically have enough space in which to fit them and bring them home!
Stuff will naturally get dirty as you travel, so we always include a couple of carrier bags or bin liners within our bag. That way, we can quickly throw any dirty shoes or wet clothes into these and keep them away from everything else inside which is nice and clean.
Well, that’s about it!
This ultimate travel packing list should be all you need to plan virtually any trip around the world!
Of course, everyone is different and will require key things when abroad, so be sure to draw up your own packing checklist and include those things important to you.
If you think I’ve missed anything key then just drop a comment below!
You may also be interested in checking out the destination-specific packing lists we've put together, including: